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Friday Slide Show: Photowalk Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

14 July 2017

It seems hard to believe that we've published 186 slide shows since 2013. It isn't just the number, it's the idea that a shy, retiring fellow like us would splatter the Web with his work on such a relentless basis. Vanity doesn't explain it.

We did the math the other day when we optimized the white space a bit in the slide show index. That makes this the 187th slide show. Not a notable milestone by any means but more like a pause for water at an aid station on a marathon run.

The concept, as we've explained previously, has been to provide shut-ins of various ilks an outlet every Friday afternoon. A little excursion you could take from your wheelchair. Or sofa. Or hospital bed. Or office chair.

But digging through our image collection for subjects, we realized it could also shine a little technical light on captures, edits and scans of old film. After all, we've made a lot of mistakes over the years. And learned a thing or two.

Today's slide show provides a bit of both.

Living in a city, you don't have to wait for nature to take its course. There's constant demolition, rebuilding, hard use, weather damage, neglect, repair and renovation. You just have to do the circuit now and then to see the changes.

In the four-plus years we've been presenting these slide shows we haven't repeated ourselves very much. Sure we've been to Ocean Beach a couple of times, but they were different shoots.

Living in a city, you don't have to wait for nature to take its course.

And today we're visiting a place we've shot before but not presented. Follow Sloat up the hill from Ocean Beach and you hit Portola at West Portal. Follow Portola in the hollow between Mount Davidson on the right and Twin Peaks on the left and you start your descent, with a lovely view of downtown to your right, at Market St.

Market St. winds downhill like it's auditioning for a Formula One course until it hits the Castro and takes its long straight but diagonal run to the Ferry Building. That's the part of Market St. most people are familiar with.

We took out our camera just before we got to the Castro, impressed by a wooden grating that rose for stories over a stairway. We stood right next to it for a dramatic angle, shooting wide angle to get it all in focus.

When we crossed the street, we saw a splatter of blue paint from a crushed bottle. You can't pass that up either, we thought. And just like that we found ourselves on a photowalk.

A few architectural details amused us, including a whicker chair in a deserted lot.

We happened to go down 17th St. just as three of the historic street cars were ending their runs. Full restored, they hailed from Mexico City, Milan and Los Angeles.

We ended the shoot with a pair of welcoming front door globes lit in the shade on a hot day, a white picket fence next to some dark shingles and a building covered in ivy with just the glass of an upper window visible.

It was a study in contrasts. So we thought we'd render them in black-and-white, like our first slide show. Even though that blue splatter of paint cried out to be in color.

A Splash of Color. Couldn't resist this one color image.

But we'd just reviewed Michael Freeman's Black & White Photography so monochrome was on our mind. We were already familiar with the techniques he describes but constrained to Lightroom to process the batch efficiently, we settled on two approaches.

We did the conversion using the HSL/Color/B&W panel, shifting the hues to lighten or darken key colors. Frankly, though, there weren't many key colors in these images.

So we used the Curves panel, switching to the Linear curve, which we adjusted to shift mainly the midtones while hanging onto the highlights and shadows.

We'd started by optimizing the color image with Clarity and shifts of the Shadows and Highlights sliders. But we returned to the Black slider at the end to give the images a little more depth.

There isn't a lot modern about these scenes, we realized on reflection. Old buildings, old streetcars. You'd be hard pressed to guess when they were taken if the modern vehicles didn't give them away.

But that, we realize, doesn't make them timeless. Just a way to pass time on another Friday afternoon without wearing down your shoe leather.

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